Whether you are a brand new online store owner or a seasoned ecommerce entrepreneur, one of the hardest things to build and maintain is steady buzz around your brand. Many people think you have to have deep pockets and an insane knowledge of Adwords to succeed. However, that’s far from the case. In this blog post, we’ll share three simple steps we learned from four ecommerce shops who generated massive returns and sales through a finely-tuned PR strategy—often times, spending little to no money in the process.
Generating big PR is a three-fold process, Gary Vaynerchuk explains in his New York Times best-selling book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. You first need to connect and build relationships with influencers (jab). While doing that, you need to start generating content (jab, jab). Finally it ends with executing your plan with the perfect pitch (right hook) to get awesome coverage. This cycle can be repeated over and over with winning results. Let’s take a look at the key steps and tools to help you along the way.
1. Build relationships with influencers
Good, solid relationships with the people that your customers look up to can really help your business go far. The best way to build those relationships is to reach out before you have news. Start following them on social media. Then start to engage with them in the comments on their blog, for example, or on Twitter. Here are two tools to help you get a jump on those connections.
Alan Masarsky, who co-founded Yamaclaus.com, lives by Buzzstream. It’s essentially a CRM to manage relationships with influencers, like bloggers, video bloggers or journalists. By helping him track these relationships, it helped Alan secure impressive coverage in a variety of media outlets including eOnline, Glamour, Hipster Jew and Complex.
Don’t have the money to invest in a fancy CRM tool? You can make your own via a simple Google or Excel spreadsheet. Just use it to keep track of each influencer, how you reach out to them, and when you reach out to them. It’s not about fancy tools, but how you use them!
Another great free tool to check out is Help A Reporter Out (AKA HARO). HARO is an email newsletter that is sent three times per day, in the morning, at lunchtime, and in the evening. It connects news sources with journalists looking for expertise. This can be a great way to build thought leadership and expertise in your niche by getting quoted in big blogs and media outlets.
2. Create great content
Of course, building relationships is only one jab. You also need to be creating great content around your niche. This can be done through blog posts, guest posts, news articles, podcasts, videos, press releases or any other creative concept you can dream up. Just be sure what you produce is engaging, educational or fun. This will help you become a resource to those in your space, both customers and influencers.
One way to generate content ideas is through Hubspot’s idea generator. All you need to do is put in three nouns, and it will spit out five different post ideas for you. All you have to do is sit down and write!
Community-driven content series
You can have a lot of success by creating a series that delivers immense value—be it helpful content or entertainment—for your community. This can be in the form of a 30-day challenge or in an interactive series, like Nancy Queen does with the NobleKnits’ knit-a-longs.
Giveaways/Contests on Niche Blogs
Another way to generate a lot of hype is to partner with influential bloggers to create a contest or giveaway. Both Alan from Yamaclaus.com and Sandy Pearson from Bicbands.com have had real success with this approach. Not only is it fun, but it’s a great way to really build community with your customers and others in your space.
3. Execute the perfect pitch
Ultimately, the success of your PR outreach will come down to crafting and tailoring the perfect “right hook” pitch to get your story picked up. To get started pitching, first check to see if any news outlets have covered topics in your niche in the past. Once you find reporters or bloggers who cover your space, reach out to them. Many media outlets, such as Entrepreneur, FastCompany and Inc., have public, online versions of their editorial calendar to help you see if your topics will be covered in future issues. Here are some tools to help you get the word out.
If you are low on time or not the best writer, there are entire marketplaces where you can hire freelance writers. Brad, who runs Hippiebutter.com, recommends Writers Access. You can bid on and hire experienced writers to help you perfect your message.
Third party press release services
Another option is to use a third party press release service, such as Pitchengine or PRWeb to help craft the release and distribute it out. These guys are more affordable than the main wires, and they can get some great distribution of your news.
For the best chance of having your story picked up, you can also use the tactic of newsjacking. Newsjacking is when you tie your story to a bigger industry trend. Send a newsy hook to your top bloggers or reporters, and watch the magic happen. Just steer clear of newsjacking tragedies.
Want more tips for securing awesome PR wins? Checkout last week’s community hangout on PR for more:
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